Toronto Libraries to Offer DRM-Protected Downloadable Books

12 Dec ’05

The Globe reports that downloadable books are coming to Toronto libraries, but not to its patron’s iPods:

The Toronto Public Library is on the verge of a deal to provide downloadable audio books, but the system won’t be compatible with Apple’s iPod, the hugely popular portable audio player.

Joanne Lombardo, the librarian responsible for electronic collections, said it is simply not possible to find a suitable audio book service that works with the iPod.

“The vendor who gives it to us doesn’t have a relationship with the iPod people. They’ve shown us a wide range of digital devices that it will go on to, but iPod isn’t one of them.”

But the story doesn’t explain why iPods are a no-go. “Suitable?” Is that librarian-speak for DRM-protected? Perhaps the answer’s in this ‘graph:

But the smaller digital devices will create a number of advantages for borrowers. For one, under the system being considered, there’s no limit to the number of times a book can be downloaded, so popular titles are always available. The files also self-destruct after 21 days, so there’s no threat of a late fee.

(I would have said, “so there’s no opportunity to keep a book for a few more days if you need a little extra time”. I’m hoping the average library patron feels, as I do, that she doesn’t really need anyone to protect her from herself.)

This sounds like a DRM model that’s incompatible with the iPod … and sure enough, a quick search confirms that the file format being used by the supplier is secure WMA.

But Globe – why so cryptic??

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